As an artist, scholar, and educator, I have found that the arts, and dance in particular, play a vital role in today’s shrinking world. As distances between cultures diminish due to technological, political, and environmental impacts, we must be prepared for flexible interaction with a multitude of places, people, and employment possibilities. Such flexibility is exactly what a quality dance education can offer. Dance, in all its various forms and manifestations, has a remarkable capacity to teach students about cultural transformation over time and across space. Encountering such transformation through movement offers students new avenues of access, kinesthetic as well as intellectual. As students of dance both embody and critically consider these issues, they garner a deep knowledge of culture in varied local contexts, a first step for understanding cultural interaction on a transnational and globalized scale.
To attain such knowledge, I move students readily between studio and classroom settings, breaking these instructional frames and encouraging students to approach dance from a kinesthetic and theoretical perspective. In particular, I employ practice-based research methodologies in every pedagogical setting that I can. With such methods, students begin to recognize their creative practices as research endeavors, and their embodied discoveries, in dialogue with current critical theory, can guide and inform their research processes. As students shift between the studio and the classroom in such practice-based research, they discover the benefits of cultivating their critical thinking skills and powers of observation alongside their physical prowess and compositional creativity. Such a well-rounded education produces individuals who can navigate diverse cultural contexts from the local to the global, as well as contribute to these contexts in respectful, creative, and impactful ways.
Technique class plays a significant role in this comprehensive education. I believe that students should aim to be as comfortable on their feet as on their hands, on the floor as in the air, with a partner as by themselves. To accomplish this, my modern/contemporary technique class borrows from the concept of six-limbed dancing to facilitate a dancer’s ability to move into and out of the floor with ease, relate to gravity in multiple ways, and exchange weight between the floor and all body parts. I rely heavily on momentum, core alignment, and head-tail initiation points (the 5th and 6th ‘limbs’) while also cultivating strength and flexibility. Drawing from my background in release technique, contact improvisation, yoga, gymnastics, ballet, Cunningham, and Alexander technique, I further students’ physical awareness in an atmosphere of fun and focused learning. In particular, I encourage students to work on self-perception as well as expanding their connection to others and to their surroundings. A focus that extends towards the minute attention to detail as well as towards the function of movement in the world at large allows students to see dance in all its depth and significance.